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UKCG’s Open Doors capturing hearts and minds

UKCG’s Open Doors initiative seeks to attract more young people into construction.

The 2015 event was our third and best to date – 115 construction sites were opened throughout the country on 6/7 March receiving nearly 5,500 visitors. 

Just over half were school groups and 22 MPs were also among the visitors. Feedback was encouraging.

The vast majority enjoyed their visit and believed they had learnt more about the construction industry. It made them think more positively about construction and to consider the industry as a possible career.  

And we had some great comments: “Excellent and well presented; treated the students like potentially valuable commodities for looking at coming into the industry. Very impressed with the site.” 

“It was an excellent opportunity for our students to experience how engineers work in a real life industrial setting.” 

“Informative, fascinating, impressive.”

Watch this space

Some might say 5,000 visitors was just scratching the surface. They are right. 

But each year we have steadily built up numbers and are beginning to build brand recognition of Open Doors among schools and colleges.  

This initiative is not a short-term venture; it is something we intend to build upon year on year. 

“We need to be savvier in enticing young people to book a site visit in the first place”

Once we get young people on a construction site they are truly amazed by the scale of the industry and its activities and the range of career opportunities.   

I have been bowled over by how good our site managers are at conveying their own passion for the industry and the careers they are enjoying. 

And this year, it was really gratifying to do a series of radio broadcasts with a trainee quantity surveyor who had first decided to think about a career in construction following a site visit during out first Open Doors event in 2012.    

Further improvements

But how do we do even better? First, by involving more people.   

So far it has been supported solely by UKCG members and a limited number of partners, including Construction News

It would be great to get other industry institutions involved, aside from CIOB and other trade bodies too. 

The proposed merger of UKCG and NSCC will help in this.

But most important of all we need to be savvier in enticing young people to book a site visit in the first place. 

Better use of social media is important as is engaging with schools. Feedback coming from schools is that they get too many confusing messages from the industry. 

A clearer message from us all will be key to capturing their attention.   

Stephen Ratcliffe is director of the UKCG

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